It’s not always easy to take care of an elderly family member, but it’s important to do what you can to ensure their well-being. Every family member has some role to play in caring for elderly parents or grandparents. The important thing is to communicate with each other and develop a plan that works for everyone involved. Here are some tips for providing the best care for your loved one.
1. Designate One Point Person
When it comes to caring for an elderly parent or grandparent, it’s important to have one person who is ultimately responsible for their care. This doesn’t mean that a person has to do everything on their own—it’s better if they don’t.
But having one point person helps ensure that tasks don’t fall through the cracks and that everyone is on the same page. This person should also be the main contact point for outside healthcare providers, like home health aides or geriatricians.
2. Get Organized
With so many moving parts, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks when you’re caring for an elderly family member. To avoid this, get organized from the start by creating a master list of everything that needs to be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis—including tasks like bathing, dressing, grooming, administering medication, cooking meals, doing laundry, paying bills, and tidying up the house.
Then, create a rotating schedule so different family members can take on different tasks at different times. Not only will this help prevent burnout, but it will also give everyone a sense of ownership and responsibility when it comes to caregiving.
3. Build a Support System
No family is an island—and that’s especially true when you’re caring for an aging relative. To make life easier (and avoid burnout), reach out to your extended family and friends and ask them to pitch in where they can. Maybe your sister can take your mom to her doctor’s appointments once a month while your brother mows the lawn every other week.
Maybe your cousin can pick up groceries for your grandma once a week while your best friend checks in with her daily by phone. Whatever you decide, just ensure everyone is on the same page about what they’re responsible for so there are no surprises down the road.
4. Hire Professional Help
If you’re struggling to provide the level of care your loved one needs on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. Home health aides can provide basic medical care and assistance with activities of daily living, while geriatricians can offer specialized medical care for older adults.
Some residential care homes provide around-the-clock care for elders with chronic health conditions or dementia. Whatever route you decide to go, the important thing is that you make sure your loved one is getting the care they need—and that you’re not trying to do too much on your own.
5. Take Care of Yourself
It’s difficult to care for someone else if you’re not taking care of yourself. Be sure to schedule time for self-care, whether taking a yoga class, running a run, or just taking a few minutes each day to read or meditate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you manage your stress in a healthy way.
You should also schedule regular check-ups with your own doctor and keep up with your vaccinations, as this will help you stay healthy and avoid getting sick (and passing it along to your loved one). No one can be “on” all the time, so make sure to give yourself a break when you need it.
6. Communicate Regularly
Even if you have a solid plan in place for caring for an elderly family member, things will inevitably come up. That’s why it’s so important to communicate regularly with all the people involved in their care, including other family members, friends, and professional caregivers.
This way, you can quickly address any issues and ensure everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done. You should also have a plan in place for what to do in case of an emergency, like a fall or sudden illness.
These are just a few things to keep in mind if you find yourself in the position of caring for an elderly family member. By taking some time to get organized upfront and building a strong support system (inside and outside of your immediate family), you can ensure you and your loved one are happy and healthy for years to come. So don’t wait—start planning today.